The final PEN Literary Award Longlists are posted today! Check out all of the lists here. Longlisters include Angela Flournoy (whom we interviewed, and who has written a Year in Reading for us), Marilynne Robinson (who is known for her singular vision), Renata Adler (about whom we have made six possibly true observations), and David L. Ulin (whose Year in Reading is here).
Out this week: The Big Green Tent by Ludmila Ulitskaya; Hotels of North America by Rick Moody; A Wild Swan: And Other Tales by Michael Cunningham; Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker; and Rules for a Knight by the actor Ethan Hawke. For more on these and other new titles, go read our Great Second-Half 2015 Book Preview.
“The Books of Magic makes The Lord of the Rings, The Avengers, Harry Potter, and even Twilight all look like entries in the same broad genre of tween-superhero fantasy, in which someone insignificant gets mighty powers, fights the forces of evil, and ultimately triumphs. …The pop culture landscape starts to look like an endless row of Tim Hunters, the same successful formula applied again and again.” From The Atlantic, a look at how Neil Gaiman‘s The Books of Magic prefigured the runaway success of Harry Potter and the modern YA fantasy-adventure craze.
“Exorbitant cost aside, if I can have the complete works of Shakespeare electronically beamed into my brain in under ten minutes, can I really say I’ve experienced Shakespeare? There is something organic about the experience of moving your eyeballs from left to right over an LCD screen in order to take in a sequence of marks the brain then must interpret as words, all the while using your hands to grip a lightweight, durable device.” Arguing for e-books over beaming text into your brain.
If you’ve ever had a successful friend you secretly envied and maybe even hated, you may be in startlingly good company: a new reading of an old letter between Groucho Marx and T.S. Eliot indicates that the “flamboyant misanthrope and the restrained one” shared exactly this kind of frenemyship. Unrelated: a short recording of Eliot reading “The Naming of Cats.”